DOUBLE DATING WITH THE DEAD Karen Kelley
Release Date: September 2007 ISBN-10# 0-7582-1765-X ISBN-13 978-0-7582-1765-3
Trent Sanders drove up the circular driveway and stopped in front of the old weatherworn hotel. Oh, God, it was worse than he could’ve ever imagined. He sat in his dark green sedan for a few seconds, just staring at the place, willing it to go away.
This was where he’d be living for the next two weeks.
The two-story monstrosity sat on a quarter of the block. The paint had peeled long ago. A sign in front hung from one hook, some of the letters faded. Trees and overgrown shrubs gave the place plenty of privacy…along with a spooky feeling.
It was definitely an eyesore. But haunted? Not likely. Just old and tired. He could certainly see where it got the reputation, though. Hell, even he’d heard of the legend of Garvey County.
A legend was all it was, though and in the next two weeks, he’d prove it. Selena James would not make a fool out of him.
Every county had some kind of nonsense perpetuated by teenagers and handed down through the ages to scare the kids who were climbing up the hallowed ranks from preadolescence to the sacred teens. The story would grow over the years until it was so blown out of proportion it verged on the ridiculous.
Now kids, he could understand. Older kids always loved taunting younger ones. It was a given fact. Hell, he’d pulled his share of pranks on his brother Tye. But when adults jumped in and tried to make a dollar off people’s fears, well, he had a real problem with that.
Especially when it cut into his schedule.
And cut it did. Staying here for two damn weeks with a so-called psychic nutcase just to prove there were no such things as ghosts really irritated him.
He climbed out of his vehicle and grabbed his suitcases from the back.
Miss James was going to regret ever challenging him to stay in this dump. His agent had come up with the perfect publicity stunt—debunk Selena for the fraud that she was by writing a book that would expose her to the world. Not only would he prove there were no ghosts, but he’d have enough information on Selena James to fill a book. It was the perfect revenge.
He strode up the creaky wooden steps. The realtor had given him a key to the hotel. It was beyond him why anyone would want to lock this place. It might be a blessing if someone broke in and accidentally burned it to the ground.
After setting down his suitcases, he unlocked the door and pushed it open. Muted light came through the grimy panes and landed on the equally grimy sheet-covered furniture.
The hotel was even worse on the inside.
Leaving his suitcases where they were, he walked farther inside the spacious foyer, his footsteps leaving tracks in the dust.
How the hell were they going to be able to stay here for two weeks? It would take that long just to make the downstairs livable.
He looked around the room, noting the registration desk with cobwebbed cubbyholes where there had once been room keys. His gaze moved past the desk, landing on the staircase. Even though it was covered with a film of dust, he could tell the workmanship was magnificent.
He stepped closer, running his hands over the smooth surface, then dusting them off. In its heyday the hotel had probably been pretty grand. Now she was just a tired old woman in a faded, tattered gown that was sorely outdated.
“Boo,” a woman said in a very dry, sultry voice from behind him.
He whirled around. For a split second he thought the place might actually be haunted. But if he was seeing a ghost, he hoped she didn’t vanish anytime soon. She looked pretty damned sweet as she stood in the open doorway.
No, not sweet. Nothing about her looked sweet. She was earth, wind and fire all rolled up into one magnificent woman. The combination was sexy as hell.
Slowly his gaze traveled over her, past long black hair that draped over one shoulder to kiss a breast. She was like nothing he’d ever seen with her loose white shirt, bangles at her wrists and a multicolored full skirt.
Selena James looked even better in color than she had in the grainy black-and-white photo above her weekly psychic column in the newspaper.
He wondered if she knew that with the sunlight streaming in behind her, the skirt she wore was practically transparent. He didn’t think he wanted to tell her. He rather enjoyed the view. Payback for the very public challenge she’d issued in the paper just because he’d said she was delusional—on television.
A twinge of guilt flickered over him. He quickly dismissed it. The woman was delusional. There were no such things as ghosts or people who talked to ghosts.
“Did I scare you?” she asked in a mocking voice, one eyebrow lifting sardonically. She swept into the room, and shadows blocked the view of her legs.
A shame because he could’ve looked at Selena James’s legs a lot longer.
“I don’t scare so easily.” He casually leaned against the balustrade and crossed his arms in front of him.
“But then you’ve never stayed in a haunted hotel,” she said.
“I can’t stay in a place that’s haunted since there are no such things as ghosts.”
As she stepped closer, he could see her eyes were a deep, haunting violet, her features pure, patrician, and she was tall. Maybe five-eight. For some reason he’d pictured her much shorter.
When she breezed past him, he caught the scent of her perfume. It wrapped around him, begging him to follow wherever she might lead. She was definitely a temptation, but one he’d resist. After all, she was the enemy.
She faced him, and his heart skipped a beat. Knowing she was the enemy didn’t make her any less alluring and sexy. Probably the reason she had so many followers who faithfully read her column. She was like a spider, weaving her web for the unsuspecting fly. But he knew her game and wouldn’t be drawn in. No, Miss James had finally met her match.
Definitely tempting, though.
Man, he’d been spending way too many hours closeted away in front of his computer while he finished his last deadline, then been consumed with promotion for his current release, Ghosts and Other Guff. Dating hadn’t been a top priority.
Two weeks alone with Selena might not be so bad. She was hot, definitely hot. He wondered how hard it would be to entice her into his bed. At least then his stay here wouldn’t be such a waste. It was an option worth considering.
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